MCM Training Week 2: Inside the Sauna

Week two is in the books, and it went as well as I could have hoped. I have to keep this fairly short since I have to squeeze in my easy 3 as early and quickly as possible tomorrow because of an insane-o work week and the fact that I’m moving apartments next week – eek! So here’s how it went down.

Monday after work I brutalized my legs (and arms, too) with a 45-minute Nike Training Club workout. I was bathed in sweat, even in my air conditioned apartment. I’d like to do some of these workouts outside sometime, in Schenley Plaza or something (especially with a buddy), but last week? Oh, last week. A massive heat wave hit the east coast all the way to the Midwest, and being outside felt like being in a sauna, all the time. The mornings were in the mid- to high-70s temperature-wise, with humidity in the 90s during each of my morning workouts. 

Tuesday morning I met my friend Tess at Schenley Park for a 4-ish miler on the trails. We hadn’t run together before and I knew she could kick my ass at short distance, plus my legs were a bit fatigued from the NTC workout (though the real soreness didn’t hit until after the run). We did a ton of chit-chatting as we climbed the hills, sweating our faces off in the unrelenting humidity, and had a great time. We sprinted to the finish because we’re both insanely competitive, and when she texted me later to ask about our pace (it was pretty damn good for an easy run on hills on such a muggy morning) she said we could “do better.” 

Ho boy. 

Tuesday we had a great Pilates class with the sub, Caitlin, who always leaves our abs shaking, and Wednesday I decided to forgo spin (still burned out) for a long arms and core workout – always a good decision – ending with the foam roller as I tried to ease my tight hamstrings. Single-leg dead lifts? Yowch.

My Wednesday gym outfit – oops

Thursday NF and I met at the track – I had invited Tess to come but something came up and she wasn’t able to make it in the end (bummer). But before that, she sent me this text message:

“Ok I’m 90% all in for tomorrow and 10% shitting my pants”

Yeah, pretty much.

It would’ve been nice to have fresh blood out there as a distraction, but I also knew this would be a good chance to test myself – both my mental toughness, and my ability to listen to what my body was telling me. My time goals for mile repeats are pretty aggressive now, as are NF’s, but when we stepped out on the track, we tried to reassure ourselves and each other that if things got ugly (75*, 95% humidity) we would ease off the gas, cut it short, or do whatever or bodies were telling us to do.

After a mile warmup, we took off on the first repeat and I just paced off of him, gauging about how far off his pace I should be and not checking my watch except at the bottom of each lap. I was hitting my splits perfectly and it felt doable, at least for the first repeat.

I took it very easy on the rest 800, then tried to dial back in for the 2nd mile repeat. I found myself watch-hawking a lot more, and it started to feel really, really hard, but still on the manageable side. I was definitely at a 9 out of 10, but not entirely redlining. I could hang on – or thought I could, until I had to walk about at the start of the rest laps. That’s okay, though; I could try to cool down a bit. I even did something I hate – stripped down to the sports bra between the first and second rest laps. Whatever. I was cooking.

The third and final repeat was pretty much my worst nightmare of the week – completely and total carnage. It felt horrible from the start and I couldn’t stop looking at my watch, trying to tell myself it was okay to ease off in this heat – run on effort, not time – but also not wanting to see splits slower than my goal range, because I’m way too proud and competitive. NF was starting his third repeat before me and wasn’t too far behind me – but he was also imploding and never caught up until I was in the middle of the third lap and pulled off to the side to have a complete and total meltdown and cry for about 15 seconds. He whipped past me and encouraged me – “almost there” – and I pulled my act together to bring it in.  A fast, lithe girl I’d been chasing occasionally was pushing hard just as I was finishing my last lap, and I was able to overtake her on pure grit before completing dying as I crossed the final line.

And I somehow managed to hit all my splits? Huh.

Each of these days, the heat index seemed to climb higher. At least I have a desk job in an air conditioned office (only perk?) but I walked to and from work each day and was a sweaty mess on both ends. Three days in a row (at least) the heat index was 105* or close to it. Agony.

Friday was only marginally better, but that was okay, because we got some bonus sunrise miles with friends! Ragnar teammate Megan was in Pittsburgh for a sorority convention, and brought her friend Kasey to run with us. We did our best to show them some of Pittsburgh’s finest running near downtown on a humid but otherwise gorgeous morning. 

Hello, sun!
It’s not a Pittsburgh run without some bridge crossings.


Megan makes a friend!
Sweaty friends!

So great getting some extra miles in and getting to chat with both old and new friends! There were lots of runners out, and we hardly got snubbed by any as we waved and said ‘good morning’! Win.

That afternoon I drove to my hometown of Cleveland, since my dad was swimming in the Senior Olympics. I tried to be as good of a cheer section/fan as he has been for me at my races.

Go Dad!


From the start of the 50 back – he took 4th!
He got 2nd in the 200 back today! Wish I could have been there to cheer him on.

On Sunday I had a 12 miler in my super flat hometown. And while some storms had come through to cool things a bit, the worst of the heat wave was over, and Cleveland was a couple degrees cooler than Pittsburgh, it was still brutal out there. When I stepped outside, my glasses instantly fogged, and a few miles in, I mentally weighed the pros and cons of the thick fog blotting out the sun (for the first 4 or 5 miles anyway) versus the mugginess inherent to it. I had to stop for every gel so I could hold the packet with both hands and rip the top off with my teeth. Each time I stopped, the humidity hit me like a wave and sweat filled my eyes and poured down my face. Blech.

Around 8.5 miles, I stopped into a Starbucks and a VERY nice barista refilled my handheld, and even put some ice in there. I came back later to buy an iced mocha and leave a big ol’ tip.

One of these was for my mom, I swear

After a hectic afternoon (future step-bro’s birthday plus bridesmaid things for the wedding!) I had a quiet, music-filled, calming drive home. I was massively styling in my purple ProCompression and Birkenstocks.

A runner’s gotta do what a runner’s gotta do

I’m really glad to be home, though I need to somehow get through this week. I skipped my workout today and am skipping PIlates tomorrow so I can have more time to get packing done. But getting my 3 miler in really early and heading straight to work. And I have a 7-mile tempo scheduled for Thursday. Phew. I’ll get it done, the best I can. Here’s to the next week after this one, though: both for moving day, and the first cutback week. We’ll make it.

A welcome home thundershower and a full arching rainbow

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I'm a 30-year-old writer and runner. This is my running blog.

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